'New' council to select vice mayor, dept. heads

July 2, 2013 9:48:25 AM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


Although the city council that convenes for the first time tonight will include just one new council member, it doesn't mean there won't be some new faces and new roles. 


The selection of a vice mayor, attorney, engineer, judges and prosecuting attorney is up for discussion when the council meets at 5 p.m. today at the municipal complex. 


Current vice mayor Bill Gavin said he would be interested in retaining that post for the next four years if he's nominated and selected by a majority.  


Jeff Turnage currently serves as the council's attorney, while the city contracts Neel Shaffer for engineering, with Kevin Stafford serving as liaison. Nicole Clinkscales and Mark Amos are the city's two judges, while Shane Tompkins serves as prosecuting attorney. 


"I think I've served the community well representing all the wards and all the people, helping bridge unity within the city," Gavin said. "I think I've filled in when the mayor was not available to make certain appointments, whether they be a speaking engagement or an official function of the city." 


The lone new council member is Marty Turner, who unseated Fred Stewart to represent Ward 4. Turner also said he would be interested if nominated and approved for the vice mayor seat. 


"I'm interested because I feel like my ward has been neglected and I want to do what I can to boost the morale of my people," Turner said. "My neighbors also asked for me to become vice mayor or at least try." 


Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem is also thought to be a contender for the seat. When contacted, he did not specify his interest in the role. 


As for the other four offices up for debate, Gavin said he supports those occupying them now. 


"At this point we have one new councilman. When you have a lot of new council people like in the previous election, you have no idea of what they're thinking or what their backgrounds are," Gavin said. "Over a period of four years, it's a professional relationship. Some things can go wrong. Something might not get done the way somebody thinks it's supposed to. I know I'm supporting everybody that's in office. I think they've done a good a job and I see no reason to change." 


The council will also discuss setting a public hearing date to discuss possible changes to downtown parking ordinances. During the board's previous meeting, Steve McLemore, who owns the Front Door/Back Door restaurant on Main Street, asked the council to consider extending its two-hour parking rule to include two rows of the parking lot behind his business, citing a lack of spaces for potential patrons.  


Karriem said if the board approves a hearing, it would involve downtown parking as a whole and not just the area affecting the restaurant.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.